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  • Print publication year: 1993
  • Online publication date: March 2008

II.5 - Concepts of Heart-Related Diseases

from Part II - Changing Concepts of Health and Disease
Eighteenth-century practitioners published descriptions of coronary heart disease based on patients' reports of characteristic symptoms. People have felt the pulse to diagnose disease since antiquity. The London physician Thomas Lewis analyzed abnormal cardiac rhythms with the electrocardiogram, a new instrument that could record the electrical signals generated by the heart. In a sense, the development of hemodynamic diagnosis was returning full circle to the issues of pressures and volumes in the heart that William Harvey was working with in 1628. Two major forms of heart disease, rheumatic heart disease and endocarditis, related to infectious agents have undergone a dramatic shift in pattern. Treatment of patients with acute myocardial infarction has evolved from observing and supporting the patient to attempting to intervene in the disease process itself. The heart continues to have a central place in Western medicine. Cardiologists have become the most powerful subspecialists in internal medicine.
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The Cambridge World History of Human Disease
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